The National Parks Service turns 100 today! Celebrate this century of stewardship of our nation’s beloved parks with one (or all) of the staff picks below. If you’re not lucky enough to live in Michigan, where park signs now sport poetry, you’ll have to tote your own literature on the trail. But don’t worry, these listens mean you won’t be weighed down or miss any unmissable sight. Wish the National Parks Service a happy birthday and give yourself or a loved one a great gift today.
This latest offering from bestselling author Paul Doiron melds the beauty of nature with the cruelty of reality. In the seventh installment of the Mike Bowditch series, the reluctant sleuth must find out what happened to an 18-year-old who might just be his half brother. Adam has disappeared from the work camp where he was sent after being convicted—unfairly, according to his mother, Amber—of statutory rape. To ferret out his half brother and make peace with his dead father, Mike must brave the remote and rough Widowmaker Ski Resort and its dangerous environs. The plot combines with narrator Henry Leyva’s inspired performance to grip each listener by both ears. PLUS, after traveling to the wild north through this audiobook, don’t miss the exclusive conversation between Doiron and Nevada Barr, next on our list.
An idyllic getaway in nature doesn’t necessarily solve somebody’s problems. That’s the unfortunate case for Elizabeth, a teenage victim of cyberbullying and stalking so bad they lead to an unsuccessful suicide attempt. After Elizabeth’s try, her paraplegic, adoptive mother—Heath—whisks them away to Acadia National Park in faraway Maine where Anna Pigeon, Heath’s friend, has just taken up residence as the park’s Acting Chief Ranger. But after they set up house on a small, deserted island close to the park, the stalking continues—and a body turns up. Plug in those earbuds, strap on those trail shoes, and forget your own troubles as you listen to Elizabeth’s and Anna’s travails. Barbara Rosenblat’s expressive reading makes this world pop just like that in front of your eyes.
Ever wonder why Teddy Roosevelt deserves his place on Mount Rushmore? Ponder no more. History buffs and outdoorsmen alike will love this audiobook, which delves into the naturalist president’s deep passion for the open air and his integral role in our nation’s 234 million currently protected acres. Dennis Holland’s clarion-clear reading will ensure that Brinkley’s Roosevelt accompanies you on many a jaunt outside.
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber, read by Quincy Tyler Bernstine
Just as fiction can be a lie that leads us to truth, so too can time in nature inform life in the home. This historical fiction stunner from a remarkably talented debut novelist follows the DuPree family—Rachel, Isaac, and their five children—to the South Dakota Badlands in 1917. Weisgarber’s inspiring tale and Taylor’s frank words speak to our current moment, as one black family tries to survive in a sometimes hostile land, and every American could stand to listen.
For listeners who want to escape the August heat, Glacier National Park awaits. There, Ted Systead, a special agent for the Department of the Interior, investigates an ostensible and grisly murder when someone is tied to a tree and mauled by a bear. Ted must also confront his own tragic past, as his father was dragged to death by a grizzly when the detective was 14. Listeners will find R. C. Bray’s stark narration fitting for the story’s spare, icy landscape.
Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde, read by Jeff Cummings
This audiobook perfectly mixes this month and America’s most famous national park, as August Shroeder heads to Yellowstone. Except instead of traveling there with his 19-year-old son to recover from the teaching grind, August sets off with Philip’s ashes. Jeff Cummings brings August’s surprisingly transformative trip and Catherine Ryan Hyde’s heartwarming story to life in this memorable listen.
If you just can’t decide which national park to visit on this day of celebration, let this memoir by 28-year-old Krista Schlyer and Marisa Vitali’s vitalizing reading bring them all to you. Struck by tragedy, Krista decides to sell most of her possessions, pack up her station wagon, and head off in search of every historic site in the country with her best friend and dog in tow. Listeners will both experience the full gamut of emotions alongside Krista and be all the wiser for her gleanings.